Safety Razor Showdown: 2-Piece, 3-Piece, and Butterfly Safety Razors Compared

Safety razors have seen a considerable resurgence recently and for good reason. Not only are they often more cost-effective in the long run, but many people find that they provide a more comfortable shave. Double-edge safety razors are particularly popular among wet shavers. However, when purchasing a safety razor, you are likely to encounter a wide range of types, most notably the 2-piece, 3-piece, and butterfly safety razors.

These razors are similar in many respects, but there are nuanced differences in their design and operation that can impact your shaving experience, including factors like aggressiveness, blade exposure, maintenance, and the option for open combs or closed combs.

We’ll compare these three types of razors, discussing each’s advantages and disadvantages, so you can decide which design is right for you.

Comparison Table

Here’s a handy table comparing the 3 types of safety razors:

Feature2-Piece Safety Razor3-Piece Safety RazorButterfly Safety Razor
AssemblyEasierMore involvedEasiest
CleaningModerateEasiestMore complex
Blade changeEasy/ModerateModerateEasiest
Average Price Range$30 – $50$20 – $70$20 – $50

Design and Assembly

In the simplest terms, the numbering system (2-piece or 3-piece) refers to the number of components that make up the razor.

2-piece safety razor consists of a handle and a head that can be unscrewed into two separate parts – the top cap and the handle which has the base plate welded to it. This design allows for quick blade replacement, but the inability to fully disassemble the razor may make it more prone to soap scum build-up.

3-piece safety razor comprises a handle and a head that unscrews into a separate top cap and base plate. This design offers the advantage of easy cleaning. Additionally, the handle and the head can be swapped out, allowing for greater customization. You can even choose between open comb razors, closed comb razors, or slant razors to adjust the razor’s aggressiveness. You can find these available at specialty retailers like Maggard Razors.

Butterfly safety razors, also known as twist-to-open (TTO) razors, contain a single handle with a built-in opening mechanism, which can be a knob at the base or a part of the handle, to open the top cap like a butterfly’s wings. This design offers the easiest and fastest way to change blades, as you don’t need to unscrew any components.


Generally, 3-piece razors are considered the most durable due to their simpler construction and fewer moving parts. The screws and separate pieces in a three-piece razor allow for easy cleaning and replacements.

Conversely, butterfly safety razors, while convenient, feature a more complex mechanism that may be more prone to breaking over time. The mechanics of opening and closing the cutting head, like a butterfly’s wings, increase the chances of damage.

2-piece safety razors strike a balance between these two types, offering decent durability and ease of use.

Blade Change

Changing the blade is easiest with a butterfly. With butterfly razors, you just need to twist the handle to open the head, remove the dull blade, and insert a new one. Many people use popular brands like Gillette, Feather, Derby, and GEM for their razor blades.

With 3-piece razors, the head unscrews into two separate parts, which makes blade replacement straightforward but in some instances, it can be a bit more cumbersome.

2-piece razors are slightly easier in that you don’t have to worry about aligning the base cap. Ultimately though, compared to a 3-piece razor, the difference is intangible.

Shaving Experience and Skincare

While all safety razors can provide a comfortable shave, some may cause skin irritation, razor burn, or razor bumps if not used properly or with too much pressure. The angle of the razor’s head may also affect the aggressiveness of the shave, which can impact skin sensitivity.

The only noteworthy difference between the different types of safety razors in terms of shaving experience will be that butterfly razors often have a bulkier head. This may make it slightly more difficult to reach tight areas, like under the nose or along the jawline. However, with practice and proper technique, you can still achieve a smooth, irritation-free shave with any type of safety razor.


In conclusion, the choice between a 2-piece, 3-piece, or butterfly safety razor depends largely on your personal preference. Consider factors like assembly, durability, ease of blade change, and your skincare needs when deciding which type of razor is right for you.

About the author:

John Miller is a passionate wet shaving enthusiast, a pastime he has been devoted to for the past 7 years. A veteran of the trade, he has earned the reputation of being an meticulous advocate of traditional wet shaving. When John first got into the hobby, he read and researched the techniques extensively, often trying new blades and techniques, and now has an unparalleled knowledge of the best products, techniques, and tools available.

John is widely respected in the wet shaving community and is a trusted source of advice and reviews. He also contributes to several wet shaving forums, often discussing the finer points of traditional shaving.